Survive the Ammunition Shortage on a Budget: Three Things You Need to Know Now

"Sorry, we're out.  Our supplier doesn't know when we'll get more."

If you're a hunter, you've no doubt heard this countless times at your local gun shop.  Your favorite load, bullet, or gunpowder isn't available anywhere for any price.  Hunting season's just around the corner and you're down to your last ten rounds for your favorite rifle.  What the heck will you do now?

While ammunition and reloading component companies are powers unto themselves, there are several things you can do to mitigate the impact ammunition shortages have on you, and we don't mean go out and buy ammo by the pallet.  You can survive this without a second mortgage on the house.  Here's how.

Learn How to Reload

Most hunters rely on factory loaded ammo, and why not?  It's reliable, reasonably accurate for hunting purposes, and somewhat affordable if you shoot the most common calibers.  All well and good until the factory ammo supply chain grinds to a halt for whatever reason.

Reloaders don't depend on this supply chain as much.  Yes, they need bullets, primers, and powder, but these are often easier to come by than loaded ammunition.  Reloading's cheaper, too: twenty to fifty percent over time.

Why does reloading help during ammo shortages?  Simple, it gives you options if your factory load is unavailable.  If you have the components, you build as much fresh ammo to your specs as you want.

Don't Fear the Cheaper

Many hunters shy away from budget-priced ammo.  They insist on premium brands and believe more pedestrian fodder will not perform well in the field.  Truth is, budget brands such as PPU and PMC will get the job done if used under reasonable conditions.  Same goes for the major ammo makers' budget priced lines such as Remington's CoreLokt, Federal's Power Shok, and Winchester's Power Point.

While these products may not have the newest, sexiest bullet designs or nickle plated cases, they have put meat in the freezer for decades.  Remington CoreLokt's date to the 1930's, for instance.  Those who follow this blog have seen the results from tests LocaCarnivore has performed and know budget ammo is often a great value.  Plus, there is a greater chance you will find a few boxes on a gun store's shelves when all the premium stuff has vanished.

They are not the best choice for precision shooting at an elk eight hundred yards away, but at normal hunting ranges, say inside three hundred yards, the old fashioned bullets work about as well as anything else.

The Holy Trinity

At a minimum, a hunter should have at least three different loads which shoot well in their rifle and have adequate terminal performance on their intended game.  If you you don't reload, try one budget load and two premium loads.  As long as each will shoot at least 2.0 MOA, they will work out to four hundred yards for most medium and large game, depending on caliber.  Then buy a few boxes each for a rainy day (you don't need to fill the kids' bedroom with shells).

If you do reload, we recommend you still find one budget factory load and then develop two hand loads.  Build two different loads with two different bullets and two different powders.  In most cases, if you can't find one, you can find the other.

One Locacarnivore's Battle

Here's an example.  Your friendly author had developed a great load for a .300 Win. Mag. with Nosler's 180 grain AccuBond, but before the smoke cleared from the development work at the range, the magical powder (H4350) vanished off store shelves and internet retailers.  I assembled a paltry eighteen rounds with what powder remained, and the subsequent big game season consumed seven.  I'd have been grim at my prospects, but I had an ace in the hole.

I had already used PPU's 180 grain soft point load the previous season to zero the new to me rifle, and it had dropped three deer and an antelope.  Not the load you'd take to Camp Perry, but it shot tight enough for hunting and hit critters like the proverbial fright train.  I scooped another box when the H4350 didn't appear in time, which took much pressure off the situation.  I had a plan B.

Next, I developed a load with some H4831 which I had purchased sometime ago.  This powder had been unimpressive with the 180 grain AccuBonds, but I dug into the reloading manuals and came up data for the 200 grain AccuBond.  Testing revealed two loads, one which developed 2640 fps and one at 2730 fps.  The slower load portended the best accuracy, but I like power (why else use a magnum?) and want to see how the faster one shoots as well.  As I write this, I have yet to take the finalists out to the range for a showdown, but I'll keep readers up to date on the results.

So, I have one affordable and obtainable factory load, one precision long range load (the 180 grain AB), and one load which will either substitute for the 180's or become a medium range sledgehammer for elk, moose, and bear.  Even if the H4350 doesn't show up soon (looking at you, Hodgdon), I have options, and options let you sleep at night.